The Power of Story
Matthew 9:16 & 17
16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
We had been waiting for low tide all week. As we walked barefoot from our guest house to the small bay where it was safe to swim, we realized that we finally had the timing just right. The waves had drawn away from the land, and stretched out before us was a wide swath of sand, perfect for beach-combing. Our family loves to swim in the ocean, but we also love to treasure hunt.
For the next hour or more, we waded through the water, searching for shells and sea glass, our favorite. Whenever one of us found a piece of sea glass, we would all gather around and admire it. I think the reason we love sea glass so much is because it tells a story. We started wondering where each piece came from and we began to make up stories to go along with each one. A big, white piece of glass was from a wedding celebration. A shard of green glass from a post-soccer game 7-Up. Several small pieces were from a family picnicking in another country. Each small fragment of glass held an entire history, an epic journey, a tale filled with adventure and hope and love.
The passage we read today is Jesus’ first recorded parable. Those two verses don’t sound like much, but they were the beginning of one of the most powerful aspects of Jesus ministry. Did you know he told 46 parables in the new testament? In fact, teaching by story was arguably his favorite method. Clearly Jesus believes in the power of story!
Just like those little bits of sea glass, we all have stories to share. Sometimes our stories are beautiful and hope-filled, they tell a tale of courage and strength. Other times our stories are full of pain or suffering, a broken hallelujah. But we believe that the God of all creation is the author and finisher of our stories. And He believes in happy endings.
- Jesus told 46 parables (or stories). Look some of them up—they are scattered all throughout the gospels! Which one is your favorite. Why?
- Tell your family a story about yourself. It doesn’t have to be long or have a moral at the end, just share something with them! Maybe you want to tell them about an experience you had or a memory that is precious to you. No matter what you decide to share, know that your story matters!
Father, thank you so much that you are the author of our story! We trust you and we place our lives in your hands. Help us to use our stories to encourage and bless others. We know that we are better together and that you have called us to love one another as you have loved us. May we be brave, bold, beautiful story-tellers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Before words were written down, stories were passed on through oral tradition. People sat around and told each other the stories that were meaningful to them! Seek out an older friend (maybe a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or a neighbor) and read your favorite parable to them. Then, ask them to tell you a story about their life!